Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 3: Quest for Hope (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

April 8, 2018

The Rebirth Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 3: Quest for Hope is a fine return to form for the Robert Venditti-lead Green Lantern franchise. This particular series started strong with an epic first volume, but then faltered with a second book that didn't add much to the story. With this third book, Venditti's ideas seem to be bubbling over; the four-part "Quest for Hope" itself swings far and wide from what the premise of the story seems to be, giving the tale a wonderful crazed, unpredictable quality. Venditti follows that with another four-parter that reminds of some of the wild multi-front wars of Venditti's New 52 run. In short Quest for Hope demonstrates Venditti back on the right track, with only a couple minor hiccups along the way.

[Review contains spoilers]

Quest for Hope starts out about how you'd expect, with Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner off to find Blue Lantern Saint Walker (formerly kidnapped by Sinestro, though that's ignored here). They find and rescue him after a de rigueur fight scene, and at the outset it seemed this book would follow Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 2: Bottled Light's path -- some predictable character developments couched in generally inconsequential action sequences. But in the third chapter, Venditti abandons the main "Quest for Hope" story almost entirely, for a gory issue-long sequence in which Green Lantern Guy Gardner is nearly beaten to a pulp testing his mettle against Sinestro Corpsman Arkillo.

Both of these are fan favorite characters, and in a kind of meta "action figure showdown," Venditti challenges the popular idea that Arkillo is the Sinestro Corps analogue of Kilowog, and instead posits Arkillo and Guy as doppelgängers. There may be some predictability here too -- as one might expect, after the fight Guy and Arkillo become Corps partners -- but it remains that Venditti's issue (drawn by Rafa Sandoval) is unexpectedly brutal (of the kind of thing we might've expected from Peter Tomasi). Moreover, Venditti overlays the battle with Guy's memories of being abused by his father (made null in the New 52 continuity but apparently brought back now), adding a powerful subtext to how and why Guy Gardner fights and what goes through his mind when he does. In three volumes, Venditti's depictions of Guy have been so strong that if Venditti decided to jettison the rest and just write a Guy Gardner series, I'd be first in line for it.

This goodwill follows through the end of "Quest for Hope" and into "The Prism of Time," which rises head and shoulders above first because it prominently features Sinestro Corpsman "Space Ape" and second because it brings in Time Master (and "Legend of Tomorrow") Rip Hunter -- it's a Green Lantern time travel story. Though there's just one enemy here, when Venditti and Sandoval have Hal Jordan high above Mogo drawing fire from crystalized space birds while the Corps prepares to strike, I was reminded of Venditti and Billy Tan's Durlan war, for instance. The story is bold and action-packed with different levels to its central mystery, and I thought Venditti did well in creating a couple new villains here who could challenge the Corps again, letting alone using Rip Hunter.

"Prism of Time" does feel an issue too long, as Venditti has the characters restate their motives again and also takes a couple unnecessary pages on the history of the Corps. When the Lantern rings don't work against the space birds, John Stewart orders the Corps to remove their rings -- a nonsensical moment, as Venditti should know, because there's nothing that prevents a Lantern from using other weapons even with a ring on. Continuity is a bit confused, as affects all of Rebirth -- Venditti makes a reference to John being in the Justice League, which, depending, never happened -- and we still don't understand the "good" Sinestro Corps' motivations, as with the former serial killer who now, for some reason, wants to make "restitution" for his victims. Despite a fair story, "Prism" feels a little lesser under V Ken Marion's more standard figures than Rafa Sandoval's expansive approach. At least two covers spoil the last page of their respective issues, taking some wind out of the story.

As well, obviously the revelation of the time-travelling Sarko's parentage is surprising, but Venditti has Kyle Rayner way too upset about the death of his adult son from the future that he never knew who came to the past to kill them all. Overall I wasn't impressed with Venditti's writing of Kyle, neither how Hal teases him (which didn't seem true to their earlier encounters), nor that apropos of nothing Kyle starts up a goofy flirtation with old girlfriend Soranik Natu, which she goofily reciprocates. Kyle, I think Venditti has forgotten, has just been through hell in Omega Men and Soranik is leader of the Sinestro Corps, and their acting like school children seemed a disservice to both of them.


On the whole, however, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 3: Quest for Hope is the right direction for this book, emphasizing the new -- new villains, new partnerships. Robert Venditti doesn't have all that much time left, and I'm eager to see him build on this momentum toward the kind of truly widescreen Green Lantern story that I know he can deliver.

[Includes original covers and variant covers by Kevin Nowlan]

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 3: Quest for Hope
Author Rating
4 (scale of 1 to 5)

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